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Countdown to Oscars

Friday, November 19, 2010
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  • The Hollywood Reporter: Daniel Miller writes that sources close to the investigation into the murder of veteran Oscar publicist Ronni Chasen have told him that their “working theory” is that Chasen’s death “was planned in advance and not the result of road rage or a carjacking gone awry.” Apparently, “police have obtained relevant footage from one or perhaps multiple security cameras located at… the home of Sherry Hackett, widow of the late comedian and actor Buddy Hackett.”
  • Deadline Hollywood: Pete Hammond documents this week’s frenzy of screenings and Q&As on both coasts for members of the WGA, PGA, DGA, SAG and countless media organizations. (Full disclosure: our own Scott Feinberg moderated two of this week’s New York Q&A’s, for “Frankie and Alice” with best actress hopeful Halle Berry and for “Black Swan” with best director hopeful Darren Aronofsky, best actress hopeful Natalie Portman, and best supporting actress hopeful Mila Kunis.) Pete notes that “one group that really has been making the rounds is the gang from ‘The Kids Are All Right,'” namely best director/best original screenplay hopeful Lisa Cholodenko, best actress hopefuls Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, and best supporting actor hopeful Mark Ruffalo (who told Pete, “I did six days working on this film and I have done 60 days of press”).
  • The Wrap: Daniel Frankel reports that The Weinstein Company “has hired some big legal guns” to wage its battle against the MPAA over the hard-to-comprehend/audience-limiting ratings that the group gave to its awards hopefuls “Blue Valentine” (NC-17) and “The King’s Speech” (R). Studio co-chief Harvey Weinstein said in a statement, “While we respect the MPAA, I think we can all agree that we are living with an outdated ratings system that gives torture porn, horror and ultraviolent films the same rating as films with so-called inappropriate language.”
  • Esquire: John H. Richardson interviews best supporting actor hopeful Christian Bale (“The Fighter”) and learns that the notoriously temperamental actor would not choose to spend time with him or any other reporter if it was up to him. “I want to be able to just act and never do any interview, but I don’t have the balls to stand up to the studio and say, ‘I’m never going to do another interview in my life!’ So I tip my hat and go, ‘Okay, mister! All right, mister! I’ll go do the salesman job.” He further explains his resistance to interviews by noting, “If you know something about somebody, it gets in the way of just watching the guy as the character.”
  • New York Times: Frank Bruni — in a piece that has been compared with Gay Talese’s famous 1966 Esquire profile of Frank Sinatra — brings to life his recent visit with the legendary singer and Oscar winning actress Cher, who is now 64 years old and promoting the new film “Burlesque,” which includes her first big screen appearance in seven years (opposite Christina Aguilera in her motion picture debut). Cher tells him, “Look, I have a very narrow range… I’ve never tried anything more than playing who I am. If you look at my characters, they’re all me.”
  • Thompson on Hollywood: Anne Thompson congratulates Alex Gibney, the Oscar winning documentary filmmaker, on both pieces of exciting news that he received on Thursday — first, “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” his doc about the former New York governor, made the Academy’s short-list of 15 films from which this year’s 5 best documentary feature Oscar nominees will be chosen; and second, he was named as this year’s recipient of the International Press Academy’s auteur award, which will be presented at the IPA’s Satellite Awards gala on December 19.
  • Twitter: A spokesman for Zeitgeist Films, the small distributor of “Last Train Home” and “The Oath,” two of this year’s most acclaimed documentaries, Tweeted the studio’s great disappointment at the Academy’s exclusion of both films from the aforementioned documentary short-list. Blogger Peter Knegt suggested that members of the Academy’s documentary branch must have some “personal vendetta” against Zeitgeist, but the studio quickly rebutted that notion, noting that one of its films has previous won the best documentary feature Oscar — for “Nowhere in Africa” (2001) — while four others have garnered nominations in the category over the years.
  • The Guardian: Xan Brooks passes along some recent remarks from British prime minister David Cameron suggesting that the UK film industry needs to make more films ‘Harry Potter’ if it is to survive and prosper. “We have got to make films that people want to watch and films which will benefit beyond themselves as they will also encourage people to come and visit our country,” Cameron stated. UK Film Council [UKFC] chief executive John Woodward later described the suggestion as “short-sighted and potentially very damaging.”

Photo: Ruffalo, Bening, and Moore in “The Kids Are All Right.” Credit: Focus Features.

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  • “It’s really fun taking something like that and putting it on a quartet. … You’ve got a great variety of different sounds. Everyone can go off and do their own thing. It makes a fantastic group piece. We’ve used it on our Halloween program sometimes. …